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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 26, 2006

Sipping under the stars on a beachside evening

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Mike Times, of 'Aiea, was playing in the A to Z band at the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki on a recent Friday evening.

Photos by REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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WHERE: Royal Hawaiian Hotel, 2259 Kalakaua Ave., 923-7311

WHEN: 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m.

FOOD MENU? Yes. Pupu, salads and desserts until 11:30 p.m.

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT: From 4:30-10:30 p.m.

ROYAL MAI TAI: White rum, orange curacao and mint sprigs beneath a float of dark rum.

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Bartender Shane Gesteuyala, of Kahulu'u, concocts the drinks. The Mai Tai Bar is beachside and open-air.

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Dolores and Stanley Jones, of Los Angeles, were in the mood to dance. There’s live music, with a changing lineup of performers.

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There are folks who'll tell you that having an evening cocktail at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel's beachside Mai Tai Bar is best on a moonless night.

A cloudless sky keeps stars visible on the horizon, the ocean indigo and Waikiki high-rise lights twinkling that much brighter.

Others believe a moonlit night — especially one blazing with full lunar power — is best. There's always that chance you'll catch the moon rising over Diamond Head down one end of Kuhio Beach, or watch it dapple the waves with light on the other.

Having made a handful of post-sunset visits to the Mai Tai Bar over the years, I've found the time you arrive doesn't matter as much as the realization that you're actually there. There, in this case, meaning relaxing with tropical drinks and conversation where millions of people worldwide no doubt wish they were at that very moment.

Sounds corny, yes? Try it and get back to me.

'Round 9 p.m. on a recent weeknight, the bar bustled with the expected crowd of very mixed-age international visitors. Every table hugging the low wall overlooking the beach and the gently lapping waves beyond was, of course, taken. Hushed English, Japanese and Spanish conversations floated by on the slightly chilly breeze.

Beachcombers, couples in love and families strolled on the beach illuminated by perched spotlights and a row of blazing gas torch lights. A couple splashed each other in the light surf. A large gold beach mattress rolled by on the wind, chased by no one.

I was saddened to find the distinctive pink tabletop ceramic candle holders, shaped like the hotel's famous illuminated tower, gone and replaced by generic red votives. They always added a touch of classic cool that made enjoying tropical cocktails after dark seem somewhat more ripe with intrigue.

And what about those drinks?

The bar's namesake Royal Mai Tai ($9) arrived as Waikiki-beachside-cocktail colorful as any tourist winging all the way from the Midwest might hope to expect. My partner in Night Stuff's Pink Palace ($9) sported the same pink hue as the hotel itself. Both were paper-umbrella-ed, tasty and packed enough wallop to make anyone forget a long airline flight or crappy day at the office.

A couple of girls from Washington state accompanied the Mark Yim Duo's acoustic stroll through "Royal Hawaiian Hotel" with a makeshift hula, while parents and assorted relatives trained two video cameras and a digital film camera on them.

None of them noticed the moon rising.

• • •



All DJ Nocturna and DJ Du Nord had to tell us was that their monthly Camera Obscura events feature "ethereal, gothic and darkwave" music, and ... Boom! ... it's listed. Who cares that it goes down on the last Sunday ... that's right, Sunday! ... of every month from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.? Who cares that I have to get up early on Monday even though it's a holiday? Who cares that it's at the Pink Cadillac? Just thank the folks at KTUH-FM's Feast of Friends for keeping it dark.


Unity Crayons' Wormwood monthly experimental underground hip-hop event debuts at Detox at 7 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday. ... Piranha Room gets Wet at Ocean Club, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., Saturday. ... ARTafterDARK exclaims "Holy Grail! Behind the Da Vinci Code" at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, 6 to 9 p.m. today.

Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.